Sword Art Online is a really interesting anime. It’s super popular and it has just as many good points as it does bad. I have seen the first series of SAO and I really liked it at first, but the second half of the first season is just terrible. This review isn’t about that though. Today I’m going to focus on the second season. If you’d like to read me ranting about all the problems in the first Sword Art Online, just leave a comment and I’ll write another post about it.
As for SAO II, I give it 3 stars overall. The things that made the first season good are still there but so are some of the problems, not all of them, but some still persist.
SAO takes place in the near future where virtual reality has hit a new technological high. VR head sets now connect to a player’s brain, allowing them to use all five senses while playing a game. The story follows Kirito, an avid VR player who logs into a new game called Sword Art Online. On the day of the game’s release all the players are trapped in the game. They are told the only way out is to defeat all 100 levels. Also, if you die in game, you die in real life.
That’s the plot of the first series. SAO II takes place about a year after Kirito defeats the original SAO (followed by other stupid events I won’t bother to mention). But because of Kirito’s skill and knowledge of VR based MMORPG’s, he’s asked by the government to help in their investigation into deaths surrounding another game.
Where the original SAO was fantasy and sword based, this new game, Gun Gale Online (GGO), is science fiction and guns. Kirito is asked to discover the identity of a player named Death Gun and his claims that he can kill people from with in the game. During his investigation he meets a female sniper named Sinon, who helps him learn the ropes of the game.
*SPOILERS AHEAD!* Let’s start with the good points. I really like Sinon. She is a deep and complex character with a fascinating back story. A girl who is terrified of guns in real life, becomes the best sniper in a video game. Go figure. Unlike a lot of females in this series, she’s not falling all over Kirito all the time. We see a lot of her inner struggle between the person she is in real life, versus the person she is in the game. It’s really cool.
As per usual with this series, the animation is solid. It’s nice to see that the art style works in both a shiny fantasy setting as well as a gritty dystopian one.
Kirito is still a cool character, maybe too cool. He’s a special little snowflake who manages to figure out how to use a laser sword against bullets because he’s just so fast. *eyeroll* Despite that, his battles were pretty cool looking.
I was real happy with this story until the very end. We figure out how Death Gun is killing people and even who he might be, which was really interesting. But we learn that Death Gun, in real life, is Sinon’s guy friend who is in love with her. When she rejects his advances he gets angry and attempts to rape her. But have no fear! Kirito is here to save the day! As per usual. *grumble*
There are two things that annoy me here, first is the sexual assault. I get a little picky about how writers use this as an easy plot device in general. And, we’ve seen this kind of crap in SAO before. This makes the second time Kirito has saved a woman from being raped. Come on writers, let’s try for a little originality here.
The only, slightly, positive difference between this assault and the first one we saw back in SAO I, is that the female character was able to, and did, put up a really good fight and even assisted in the actual taking down of the bad guy.
But really, why did we even need the assault? Why did this have to get sexual? I’m fine with her being attacked in a general way, because she was friends with the murder and he didn’t want her to tell anyone, so it make sense he might want her dead. Can’t we have a bad guy who doesn’t rape people? I mean, isn’t murder bad enough? Do we really need to keep establishing how EVIL someone is? *END RANT & SPOILERS*
In the end, I do suggest people see Sword Art Online. Just watch the first half of the first season and then skip to SAO II. Trust me, you won’t really miss much.
Question time! Have you seen SAO yet? What are your thought if you have? Also what anime are you watching this weekend? I’m going to be finishing up Chihayafuru and I’m seriously thinking about re-watching Kamisama Kiss.
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